Standing in dance class clad in my perfectly pink tutu and dreaming of pointe shoes, my five-year old self yearned to be a ballerina. Fast forward to the present, and I still secretly wish I was a professional dancer. But now I spend most of my time living vicariously through YouTube videos, and So You Think You Can Dance…
Which is why you can imagine my excitement when Boston Ballet unveiled the first full-length ballet of its much anticipated 50th season this weekend. “La Bayadere” is a classic must-see ballet, and Florence Clerc’s adaptation breathes new life into the age old story. Here are my top five reasons why you should put down the books this fall, and hop on the T to see La Bayadere:
1. La Bayadere tells a classic story of love, betrayal and revenge.
Set in India, La Bayadere is a classic story reflecting timeless emotions and timely concerns. It tells a passional tale of love, betrayal, and revenge. Nikiya, a temple dancer, falls in love with a young warrior named Solor. However, Solor was selected to be engaged to Gamzatti, the daughter of the Rajah. Nikiya, unware of this arrangement agrees to dance at the couple’s wedding celebrations. Tired of your own drama? Immerse yourself in the world of La Bayadere and see how these timeless human emotions play out.
2. Florence Clerc’s adaptation brings a new and exciting twist through the nuances in her choreography.
Florence Clerc’s adaptation of Marius Pepita’s choreography incorporates non-Western dance technique to create an interesting interpretation of the theme which is particularly memorable. While classical ballet is known for its clear, straight lines, Clerc’s choreography uses Oriental-inspired arms to stylize the movement. Instead of the relaxed traditional ballet hand, Clerc uses the flexed mudra hand with a flexed-wrist where dancers touch their thumb to index finger. The show’s whimsical and ethereal quality as demonstrated through Clerc’s re-staging gives the ballet a unique embodiment of the story’s essence in a subtle way.
3. The Golden Idol variation combines visceral strength and artistry, a main component in the proper execution of such a technically challenging ballet.
The Golden Idol variation traditionally performed in the second act is one of my absolute favorites. It is an incredibly demanding piece, with a challenging combination of anti-gravity jumps and powerful, speedy, skillful movements. The choreography includes 5 sections (four of which are jumping sections) in a span of three minutes. Don’t let the length of this piece fool you — the phenomenal stage presence of both Jeffrey Cirio and Isaac Akiba painted from head-to-toe in gold paint ensures that this piece will be one of the most memorable and striking pieces in the show.
With turning rotating stag leaps, double sous de chats, and quad tours, the pure stamina needed to not only get through this piece, but to execute it well is mind boggling. Seriously. Take a look at this one, and then try and tell me that dance isn’t a sport. I dare you.
4. The Kingdom of Shades is one of the most mesmerizing classical performances in all of ballet.
Part of what makes La Bayadere one of the greatest 19th century ballets is the Kingdom of Shades, one of the most mesmerizing classical performances in all of ballet. Imagine 24 dancers symbolizing ghosts (or “Shades”) dressed all in white, entering one at a time performing arabesques penchees decending slowly down a ramp which symbolizes their appearance from the netherworld.
The ethereal effect is created by combining deceptively simple steps, with the first dancer out of the gate repeating them 38 times until all the women have joined her onstage. Boston Ballet’s rendition of the Kingdom of Shades aptly set at the end of the third act, does a fabulous job of keeping the steps clean, and precisely executed while still maintaining the nuanced sad strength of the shadows. Their decent down the ramp is followed by a beautiful lyrical adagio done in six lines of four dancers, extending both the beauty and rigor of the performance. Few scenes in ballet are more pure than the Kingdom of Shades.
5. Boston Ballet offers discounted student rush ticket options.
The best part? Boston Ballet has two different student rush ticket options. There are student rush tickets available for $20 two hours before the show on the day of the performance, which you can get by stopping by the Boston Opera House Box Office. If you want to plan a little further in advance, a limited amount of $30 advance student rush tickets are available for select performances. For more information, visit bostonballet.com<http://bostonballet.com>.